Showing posts with label tomato. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomato. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Transform Tomato Peels into a Tasty "Sun-Dried" Tomato Spice by Cleo Coyle




My pop, Tony Alfonsi, was born November 29, 1929, exactly one month after Black Tuesday, the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States. Needless to say, Dad was a Depression era baby. He never had to preach principles of economy to me. He lived them—which meant I learned them by osmosis. Consequently, "waste not" has been a part of my philosophy for a very long time. (It’s also the basis for a whole range of global cuisines, but that’s another post.)

As for this post…

It's one I promised you last week when I showed you how to make Meatless Italian Tomato Sauce from fresh tomatoes. If you missed that post, you can jump to it now by clicking here.

Peeling and de-seeding fresh tomatoes takes your sauce up a level in quality. It also leaves you with a big ol' pile of tomato skins and peels, but you don't have to discard them. Today's recipe will show you how to make tasty use of them...




Cleo Coyle's
"Sun-Dried"
Tomato Flakes


To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.


Sun-dried tomatoes bring great flavor to so many dishes. That bright, tangy taste is concentrated beautifully in these easy-to-make tomato flakes.


Cleo Coyle, veggie
dehydrator, is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries 
You can toss the flakes onto sandwiches and wraps, stir them into soups, stews, and veggie dips; add a few tablespoons to a meatloaf (in place of tomato paste); or flavor boost your salads, pastas, burgers, omelets, and pizza. Best of all, it's a great use for tomato skins and peels that you might otherwise discard. The insanely easy instructions are below. So waste not and...eat with joy! ~ Cleo



Step 1: Start with the tomato peels (or skins) that you have left over from cooking sauce from scratch or other uses. (For instructions on how to easily remove tomato skins, see my recipe post from last week by clicking here.) Place parchment paper on a half-sheet pan and brush the paper with olive oil. Spread out the tomato peels in a single layer. 


Step 2: Bake in an oven preheated to 225 degrees. F. After 30 minutes flip the peels over. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes for a total cooking time of about 1 hour. The peels are done when they turn crisp like potato chips—but you don’t want them to turn dark brown so check them near the end of the cooking time.


Step 3: When they’re done dehydrating in the oven, place the dried peels in a food processor, blender, or spice grinder (a coffee grinder with a blade) and run the machine in short bursts or pulses until they form flakes. (Do not over-process.) Store the tomato flakes in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container. For longer life (about 2 months), I keep mine in the refrigerator.




Eat with joy!

~ Alice Alfonsi
(Cleo Coyle)

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my mysteries here.







To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.
 






The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 

 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Make Meatless Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes: A post for my Dad (Tony Alfonsi) by Cleo Coyle

I swear this 2-hour meatless sauce will fool anyone into thinking it was simmered for 6-hours with meat. The rich depth of flavor is amazing and well worth a Saturday afternoon making it the way the "old timers" did. Even if you make it only once in your cooking life, the experience is one you'll never forget.


For those of you who've made pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes, you know the very smell of the sauce cooking is like nothing else on earth. With all my heart, I wanted to experience that little piece of heaven again to bring back some very sweet memories of my father, Antonio "Tony" Alfonsi.

Dad went into the hospital a week after Father’s Day and never came out again. He passed away on June 27 and we laid him to rest July 3rd at the age of 83. 

Dad was born a poor boy, the son of an Italian mounted police officer and his wife who emigrated here from Italy. But Dad didn't need money to lead a rich life with plenty of family and friends who loved him. 

He was a tough guy with a tender heart who served in the Army Air Corps then worked for years in a Pittsburgh area steel mill...
My Pop, Tony, with his mother Graziella.
(You can see the steel mills in the background.) 

My Father and Mother,
Antonio and Rose Alfonsi



For over 30 years, Tony was a faithful husband to my late mom, Rose. He raised two daughters with her: one a medical doctor (and assistant professor), Grace; and the other a journalist and New York Times bestselling author (yes, me, Alice, aka Cleo). 

As one of his nurses said to him in the last few months of his life, "You did good." I think so, too, and count myself very lucky to have been his daughter.







My sister, Dr. Grace Alfonsi, during her
time serving as Community Health Director
in Bethel, Alaska. 


During the Depression, my father's father kept his large family fed by working a small farm from which they sold produce. Every spring, my dad helped plant 2,000 tomato plants for his family, so he had no problem tending the 100 or so tomato plants he sowed for our own little family every summer.

Fresh pasta sauce was part of that yield, which is why I'm dedicating this post to my father. My husband and I are dedicating our next Coffeehouse Mystery book to him, too--more on that in a later post.

Finally, I can’t wait to tell you how the Chianti in this picture got into this recipe, but that’s a story for next week! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the recipe. May you cook it with love and make lifelong memories of your own...

Eat with (everlasting) joy,

Alice Alfonsi,
who writes The Coffeehouse Mysteries
as Cleo Coyle with her husband Marc Cerasini

8 pounds (about 23) peeled and de-seeded
fresh tomatoes will cook down to about 1 quart (4 cups),

which is what I use in the sauce recipe below...


Cleo Coyle's
Meatless Italian Spaghetti Sauce 
from Fresh Tomatoes for my Father...

To download this recipe
in an illustrated PDF
 document that you can print,
save, or share, click here.



What kind of tomatoes should you use for this recipe? While Roma (aka Italian plum) tomatoes are traditionally used for sauce, you can use any kind for this recipe. Whether you grow your own, pass a farm stand with big baskets for sale, or simply see a summer sale at your grocery, you can make this sauce out of any tomatoes you find or even mix the varieties--as long as they're ripe, you will eat with joy! 

~ Cleo (Alice)


Makes about 1-1/2 to 2 quarts
(depending on your thickness preference)


Ingredients:

8 pounds ripe garden tomatoes

   (about 20 to 25 tomatoes)
5 celery ribs
2 carrots
1 large white onion
1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves (curly or flat-leaf)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried basil (or 3 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade.)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of your favorite red wine (I’m using Chianti this go-round)

1-4 cups vegetable stock (in a pinch, simply use water)


Step 1- Prep the fresh tomato base: The taste of fresh summer tomatoes in this sauce is truly amazing, but you must first properly prepare the tomatoes. The process of peeling, de-seeding, and pulping those little round orbs may sound difficult, but it’s very easy—and once learned, the techniques can be used in a lifetime of cooking. See my instructions at the end of this recipe.




Step 2 - Prep the veggie aromatics: Roughly chop the celery, carrots, parsley, and onion. Add them to a food processor with the olive oil and pulse until very finely chopped—but do not puree or liquefy.



Step 3 - Add the spices and ignite: Add this veggie mix to a large pot with the spices (garlic powder, fresh or dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper) and sauté (while stirring) over medium heat for about 10 minutes to release the flavors. Be sure to stir to keep the mixture from burning.



Step 4 - Add tomato pulp, wine and simmer: Add the quart of tomatoes that you have peeled, de-seeded, and cooked down into pulp (see instructions at end). Pour in the wine and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every so often to prevent scorching. After 1 hour, the mixture will have thickened into a beautifully condensed and very flavorful sauce. Now all you need to do is thin it out a bit...

Step 5 - Finish with stock (or water): To thin out this very thick sauce, stir in 1 to 4 cups of vegetable stock (or water). Continue cooking and stirring for another 20 to 30 minutes. If you like, use an immersion blender to smooth out any remaining chunks before serving. (We do!)

Depending on your own taste, continue adding more stock (or water) and/or cooking down until you get the consistency (thinness or thickness) that you prefer. 

Storing: This sauce will stay fresh about 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.


How to Prep Fresh Tomatoes for Sauce 

Peeling and de-seeding tomatoes will remove bitterness and unwanted textures from your sauce. Because this step brings your sauce to a higher level of taste, it’s truly worth it—and it’s very easy to do. To watch a chef from the Culinary Institute of America perform this very easy process, click the arrow in the window below and watch the YouTube video.

-----------------------------------



---------------------------------------

1 - Peel your tomatoes: Remove stems and shallowly core as shown in my photo. Slice a small X at the bottom of each tomato. 


Place a few tomatoes at a time into a pot of simmering (or boiling) water. After 15 to 30 seconds (no more) remove immediately and drop in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. 



Using your fingers, gently peel the skin off the tomatoes. (You can save the skins to make a delicious condiment "sun-dried tomato flakes," click here for that recipe.) If you have any trouble with peeling a tomato, simply place it back in the boiling water for another 15 seconds and repeat the process. 


2 – De-seed your tomatoes: Cut the tomatoes in half--make sure you cut it as shown, crosswise, along its equator. Using a small spoon, gently dig out the seeds and discard. (You will not get every single seed out, and that's okay, just get as many as you can and you'll improve the sauce flavor.)


3 – Pulp your tomatoes: Place a large pot on the stove. Using a clean hand, roughly crush each peeled and seeded tomato over the pot and toss inside. Cook down the tomatoes over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent scorching. Continue mashing the tomatoes with a large spoon as they cook


Cook until the excess water has evaporated and you are left with tomato pulp. 8 pounds of tomatoes will give you about 4 cups (1 quart) of tomato pulp. 



While the tomatoes are cooking down, begin the Meatless Spaghetti Sauce recipe, starting with Step 2, and when you're finished, be sure to...eat with joy!



A daughter may outgrow your lap,
but she will never outgrow your heart.
I love you, Dad. Rest now and
I will see you again...



~ Alice Alfonsi
(Cleo Coyle)

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me now, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.




The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 

 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

How to Make the Fastest Supper Ever


LUCY BURDETTE: I'm in one of those crazy busy stretches where I've barely got time to sleep, never mind cook. Never mind cook recipes with a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps! 

I am definitely not complaining, because it's all good stuff--a little book tour to launch TOPPED CHEF, and the due date looming on MURDER WITH GANACHE.

Besides, we have to eat...and it can't be takeout every night, because what would I post for you? So here's a suggestion for a quick supper that's still homemade and delicious, but not a time suck.

Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Tomato Etc. Salad

Ingredients

1 whole chicken, uncooked (I prefer to pay a little more and buy organic here)
Sweet potatoes, one per person
1 tomato
1 avocado
1/2 ball fresh mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 375. If you like a crispier skin, you may bake the chicken at 425 or so for 15 minutes, and then turn it down to 375. Pat the chicken dry, clear out whatever's in the cavity. You may dab some butter on top, or even moisten it with olive oil. Then sprinkle with Kosher salt, some chopped fresh rosemary if you have a pot on your windowsill, and cracked pepper. Optional: peel an onion, cut in two, and stuff it into the cavity. 

Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half, check for doneness with a meat thermometer. Or prick it near the leg and see if juice runs clear. Baste occasionally with pan juices.

About fifteen minutes into the baking, add sweet potatoes (washed and pricked in several places) to the oven. I either put them on a piece of foil or in a small baking pan, because otherwise they will ooze all over your oven. Bake until soft and serve with butter.


And in the meanwhile, slice the tomato, slice the cheese, slice the avocado. Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle with salt and a shake of hot pepper flakes and drizzle with olive oil.



Voila, supper! And now you will actually have time to look at the sunset for a few minutes too!


And please don't forget to order your copy of TOPPED CHEF!
Coming May 7! 

And please "like" Lucy on Facebook for updates on book and foodie news.                    

And speaking of contests, here's a fun one for the best grilled cheese sandwich. That's one contest I'd enjoy judging!  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bruschetta Open-Faced Sandwich

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb[3] I had a great time at my book club meeting last Thursday.

The book itself was interesting, the discussion was lively, but the very best part was visiting with my friends—and the food that was there!

My friend Corby was the book club hostess for May and she’d prepared a delicious bruschetta open-faced sandwich that all the club members oohed over! So of course I thought I’d share it with you here. The construction of the sandwich is quick and so is the cooking time…but you do need to put aside an hour for the caramelized onions. Corby said that if you try to cheat, it just doesn’t taste the same. And this dish was too delish to mess up!

Bruschetta Open-Faced Sandwich

IMG_20110526_193101

Ingredients:

A take-and–bake loaf of artisan bread
2 -3 onions sliced Caramelized onions
(sauté on low with olive oil and a little butter for about an hour) Take your time because the onions will be sweeter.
1 large Mozzarella ball, sliced
2 medium sized tomatoes cut into thin slices
1/4 pound prosciutto
balsamic vinegar blend (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup fresh basil
A seasoning blend (like Nature’s Seasons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the loaf of bread in half. Layer these ingredients on the top of the loaf halves—prosciutto on the bottom, then sliced tomatoes, then the caramelized onions. Place the Mozzarella on the top then bake according to the bread instructions (about 10 minutes.) After removing the bread from the oven, add the basil, balsamic blend, and your seasoning mix.

IMG_20110526_193055One of the nice things is that it still seemed like a fairly light meal---perfect for summer. And it wasn’t as messy to eat as it looks in the picture…which is important when you’re at a party or book club!

Coming June 7!
imageFINGER LICKIN' DEAD by Riley Adams
Riley/Elizabeth
Delicious and Suspicious (Riley Adams)
Finger Lickin’ Dead—June 7 (book 2 of the Memphis BBQ series!)